As I leaned over the railing, my coworker took a sidelong glance at my midsection. “Dave, you’re looking fatter and fatter every day,” he said.
My self-esteem plummeted. But I’ve been working out! But I’ve been eating salads! But I’ve been —
Here’s another thing about Indian culture: one’s weight is not a sensitive issue. “You need to lose weight,” I remember one coworker, a twenty-something male, telling a twenty-something female. Six of us had been sitting around chatting – five guys and her. When the pronouncement about her weight was made, all the other guys turned, evaluated her body, and nodded in agreement.
She wasn’t shocked. She wasn’t upset. *I* couldn’t believe what I’d just heard, but I was the only one.
If the subject comes up in the US, it’s only in the context of positive reassurance. (“No… you look great!”) Here, on the other hand – well, when I told another coworker how shocked I’d been by the comment about my gut, this coworker just laughed. “Oh, he’s only saying that because I told him a few days ago that his belly had gotten huge.”
Also, as I was writing this, I was reminded once again that guy-on-guy ambush massages (think President Bush coming up behind Chancellor Merkel) are also perfectly acceptable here. Thanks, buddy. Felt great.